Understanding the Basics: What Is Higher Education Software?

This blog looks at how a modern higher education software enables educational leaders to foster student success, develop more effective business processes, gain deeper insights across the organization, and navigate a disruptive landscape.

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This blog is part of a series explaining the technologies that help companies manage their people, money, and processes.

Higher education institutions face mounting pressure. They’ve been facing a significant drop in enrollments this time last year. Increasingly, students are looking for other educational options, such as a career pathway model, that are beyond traditional course sequences, which is causing institutions to rethink their traditional business models. And then, the coronavirus pandemic happened. At the onset, colleges and universities suspended in-person classes and moved to online instruction as a health and safety precaution. Institutions are continuing to adjust to a changed education landscape, and the challenges include maintaining student engagement in a remote environment. 

This all requires higher education institutions to operate at peak efficiency to ensure student satisfaction, fiscal health, and the agility to adapt to future needs. 

But campuses and higher education institutions are like small cities, with many moving parts, all of which impact each other. Getting a handle on all of it requires access to data, and then the ability to join that data in a way that gives a 360-degree view of campus operations. Higher education needs to transform data into a strategic asset so that institutions can best meet the needs of students, budgets, faculty, and facilities—now and in the future.

Higher education institutions are recognizing that organizational agility is key to drive long-term growth and digital innovation.

What Is a Higher Education Software System?

Although educational institutions use a variety of software and technologies, higher education software typically refers to higher education information systems or student information systems, which are programs that help educational institutions manage data and processes related to the students’ educational journey: admission, enrollment, academic records, academic advising, curriculum management, financial aid, and more.

Here’s another way to think about it: companies have a human resource (HR) system to manage a worker’s “employee lifecycle,” which encompasses processes such as hiring, onboarding, skills development, and more. Likewise, colleges and universities also need a system to manage the end-to-end educational journey for students—from recruiting and admission to graduation and beyond.

Most of the software systems at educational institutions were installed before email, social media, and the internet were anywhere close to mainstream, so institutions have continually been updating higher education software platforms to integrate with the latest technologies. But these often patchwork, hybrid systems are especially under pressure given the changing needs of students, who bring an average of seven connected devices to campus with them, and new modes of education, including more personalized learning and online learning.

As learning trends and student demographics continue to shift, schools will increasingly look to engage with students throughout their entire academic career, and to have access to information to help match students with courses, co-curricular activities, advisors, mentors, and more. A seamless student experience is the best student experience, and with all data in one place, institutions and students can unlock insights when and where they need them.

Ultimately, higher education software must foster student success. To do that, administrators, faculty, and students need a system that is as intuitive and easy-to-use as the other technologies they use in their daily lives.

What Are the Benefits of Modern Higher Education Management Software? 

Legacy systems in higher education are disjointed, outdated, and don’t reflect the way educational institutions operate today. Many important functions that are a part of modern higher education institutions simply weren’t around 20 to 30 years ago when existing systems were built. 

What’s more, higher education institutions are recognizing that organizational agility is key to drive long-term growth and digital innovation. According to the Workday global survey, “Organizational Agility at Scale: The Key to Driving Digital Growth,” over two thirds (69%) in higher education say their strategy for growth through digital innovation constantly evolves based on continual learning from organizational outcomes and “customers” (in this industry’s  case, students).

In other words, agility is the biggest benefit for colleges and universities with modern higher education management software. With an agile higher education platform, educational leaders are able to foster student success, develop more effective business processes, gain deeper insights across the organization, and navigate a disruptive landscape.

At Workday, we believe the baseline of modern higher education software is having a complete view of all data—finance, HR, and student—in a single cloud-based system to enable full data analysis and easy access to information.

With all data in one place, institutions and students can unlock insights when and where they need them.

With a modern higher education management system like Workday Student, higher education officials can use dashboards to monitor enrollment trends, track if there’s a demand for a course, open faculty positions, track tuition revenue by program area, and course selection by enrollment to ensure timely staffing. 

For students, they can enroll in classes online, receive alerts regarding due dates, get immediate feedback as to whether they successfully enrolled in their classes, and can track their academic path toward graduation. Using rich data from student profiles, Workday Student platform can recommend academic support programs to enrich the student experience

A 360-degree-view of data enables institutions to identify such things as programs that are cost centers, which ones generate revenue, and analyze data by program of study. With Workday Student, institutions gain data-driven insights into things like the health of their applicant pool, student trends, and course demands—enabling them to make the most informed decisions both now and in the future. And, amid the pandemic, agility becomes more crucial than ever before.

A 360-degree-view of data enables institutions to identify programs that are cost centers, which ones generate revenue, and analyze data by program of study.

What Is Workday Higher Education Software?

Workday higher education software is called Workday Student, a single cloud-based system that can work seamlessly with Workday Human Capital Management and Workday Financial Management. With Workday, higher education institutions can bring an entire campus into one modern, agile, easy-to-use system. 

Partnering with more than 40 higher education institutions, Workday set out to build higher education software designed for today’s learners. Education partners told Workday that current student systems are disjointed, outdated, and don’t reflect the way they work today. Workday Student was built with the keen understanding that administrators, faculty, and students needed a system that was as intuitive and easy-to-use as the other technologies they use in their daily lives.

Workday has created a student information system that enables social and mobile interactions, giving administrators and students the flexibility to perform tasks anytime, anywhere, whether on a laptop in the library or a smart phone at the beach. Workday Student is a system built hand-in-hand with insight from customer design partners to bring a truly modern student information system to market.

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